To aid you in the understanding of the rules that follow it will help to explain some of the elements within the game.
The Player Display
Each player has one player display in their color. The warehouse is used to store goods in. The bank is used to hold gold coins. When you place city discs on the board you choose whether to take them from your warehouse or bank. In doing so, you increase the storage capacity of that section.
The 'Available Stock' space is used to hold available merchant cubes, free action cubes, navigation and industry counters.
There are eight Action boxes. On the left side of each box is the cost for initiating the action with one of your merchant cubes. On the right side is the cost for initiating the action with a free action cube.
The 'Action cubes' section is where you place cubes at the start of your turn. Please note that merchant cubes have multiple uses. They act as 'action' cubes while in this part of your display, but are also used to place on the board as merchants.
The Game Board
The game board is made up of a variety of elements, some of which will be explained here, others when necessary during the rules.
The 'Ship Age Track' is one of two main parts of the game board, the other being the 'areas'. During the course of the game players will place their ship counters on this track, which in turn will allow them to place cubes and discs on the board.
The track is divided into eleven ages, numbered from one to eleven. Each age contains a merchant ship and a warship.
When you place a ship you must choose which box you wish to place in, which then determines whether you place a merchant cube into a trade box or a city disc into a city space.
The ship ages are also grouped into three eras, the Galley era, the Sailing Ship era, and the Steamship era. The era is indicated by the symbol to the bottom left-hand corner of each box.
The navigation symbol lying on the boundary of each age indicates the cost of advancing to the next age, which is paid with navigation counters. The title box for each age also indicates the victory points gained and lost when the first ship counter is placed there.
The first time a ship is placed in a box marked with the sailing ship symbol marks the beginning of the Sailing Ship era. Similarly, the first time a ship is placed in a box marked with the steamship symbol marks the beginning of the Steamship era.
The main part of the game board shows a map of Europe. Around this are locations relating to other parts of the globe.
There are six areas in all, three in Europe and three around the edge of the map. These areas are numbered from two to seven. Each area contains a number of locations.
Each location has a name, one or two city spaces and a number of trade boxes. Players can advance from one area to the next by paying the required number of navigation counters.
The game is divided into three eras.
At the start of the game there will be twelve Galley era cards on display. The 'Take one card' action allows you to take a card from this display. All cards are actioned as soon as you take them, so it is better to regard them as additional actions that are available to you.
All cards are discarded after their effect has been resolved. Some of the cards will replicate the actions available on your display, in which case the only difference is in the cost of taking the action (taking a card only requires the expenditure of a merchant or free action cube).
Most cards have text explaining their effect. However, some cards only have symbols, which are explained below:
Take the indicated number of gold coins and place in your bank.
Take the indicated number of merchant cubes from the pool and place in your Available stock (which in this case would be one cube).
Take the indicated number of navigation counters from the pool and place in your Available stock.
Take the indicated number of industry counters from the pool and place in your Available stock.
There may be an additional gold coin cost to taking a card, which will be indicated as shown here.
Important Note about Gold:
Whenever you gain gold and do not have the room to store it in your bank you immediately convert this surplus gold into victory points, one point for every two such gold you have. You then return the gold to the pool.
This rule covers ALL situations where you gain gold. You do not gain anything for the odd gold piece returned to the pool.